Bowing to lay teachers

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

Re: Bowing to lay teachers

Postby SDC » Tue Jan 31, 2012 11:32 pm

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:Whether bowing to a monk, a lay Dhamma teacher, or a stūpa, why do you bow three times? It is because you are bowing to the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha (those Noble Ones who have realised nibbāna).

If you understand that your bowing is something done by you to show how much you respect the Triple Gem, and not how much you respect whoever is sitting in front of you, it becomes easy to bow, even to a monk or lay person who is weak in virtue, and far from the Noble Path.

It doesn't matter if the pile of bricks looking like a stūpa actually contains relics or not. Why should you allow that to affect your reverence for the Triple Gem? Nor does it matter if the person, photo, or statue you're bowing too is a Noble One or not. If your mind is purified by focusing on the qualities of the Triple Gem, that is what is important.


Thanks for this, Bhante.

Question is - do most people even know this to be the case?

I would suspect that most believe there is more to a bow than respect for the Triple Gem. I think it comes down to why the person is choosing to bow, not who or what they are bowing to. If the respect and reverence is there then the person knows why they are choosing to bow. I suppose there are many cases where a bow is performed out of feelings of obligation and/or social pressure (a need to look like you "know what's up" or that you "know how to act"). Perhaps those that succumb to bowing for these reasons will eventually feel a true need to do so.

Just my .02 :smile:
User avatar
SDC
 
Posts: 1009
Joined: Mon Dec 14, 2009 11:08 pm
Location: North Jersey

Re: Bowing to lay teachers

Postby chownah » Wed Feb 01, 2012 12:59 am

"Whether bowing to a monk, a lay Dhamma teacher, or a stūpa, why do you bow three times? It is because you are bowing to the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha (those Noble Ones who have realised nibbāna).
"

Ben,
Do Goenka's students bow three times to him? In a previous post you asserted that his student's bow to him to express gratitude and respect....it seemed like you were saying that it was out of respect for him although you did not say that explicitly. I'm just wondering if actually different people have different reasons for bowing and on this forum most people who post are wanting to tell the appropriate reasons for bowing.....which is fine but in my view it does not really express the way things really are in that my view is that some people bow for inappropriate reasons. (Note: "appropriate" and "inappropriate" are just figures of speach here and might be replaced with "beneficial" and "non-beneficial" or probably other descriptors.)
chownah
P.S......oooops!!.....just saw the previous post.....I guess I'm being redundant.....
chownah
chownah
 
Posts: 2622
Joined: Wed Aug 12, 2009 2:19 pm

Re: Bowing to lay teachers

Postby Ben » Wed Feb 01, 2012 1:14 am

Hi Chownah,

If you surveyed SN Goenka's students, you'll find a range of responses. From "I'm bowing because everyone else is doing it" right through to bowing to honor the triple gem. A lot of people bow out of respect, gratitude, personal reverence, and also because they are bowing to the Dhamma embodied in SN Goenka and/or the tradition/lineage.
What I have observed is that his western students bow once. In Myanmar the Burmese bow three times and what I have seen in India is that most of his Indian students bow once and some when they bow once move their hands (in Anjali) to the ground to the forehead three times.

Chownah, you might find the following interesting:

Question: Goenkaji, every time assistant teachers enter and leave the meditation hall, Dhamma servers bow down. The students are watching this, and when they offer Dhamma service they do the same thing. It has become almost a ritual. Could you please advise on this?

Goenkaji: In pure Dhamma no ritual at all should be allowed. Dhamma and ritual cannot co-exist. I find nothing wrong in somebody's paying respect to an assistant teacher, provided this person is paying respect to Dhamma. An assistant teacher, or whoever sits on the Dhamma seat-assistant or senior assistant or deputy or Teacher, anybody-is representing the Buddha, the teachings of the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the entire lineage of the Teachers of Vipassana. He or she lives a life of Dhamma and is serving people in Dhamma. One develops a feeling of devotion, of gratitude towards this person.
Bowing down is a meritorious deed. Actually one is bowing down to Dhamma, paying respect to Dhamma. But when this becomes merely a formal rite or ritual, it goes totally against Dhamma. If some- one bows out of respect and others feel, "If I do not bow then people will consider me a very discourteous person, so I must also bow," again, there is no Dhamma. To act with Dhamma is always to have a pure volition in the mind. Otherwise it is just a mechanical exercise: you bow down and give good exercise to your back! If these back exercises are to be done, better do them in your own room. If somebody does not bow because at that particular moment, he or she has not developed the volition of devotion towards Dhamma, I feel happy: "Very good." Bowing must be with this volition of paying respect to Dhamma, not to the individual.


kind regards,

Ben
"One cannot step twice into the same river, nor can one grasp any mortal substance in a stable condition, but it scatters and again gathers; it forms and dissolves, and approaches and departs."

- Hereclitus


Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR
Buddhist Life Stories of Australia

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com
User avatar
Ben
Site Admin
 
Posts: 16046
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:49 am
Location: Land of the sleeping gods

Re: Bowing to lay teachers

Postby Cittasanto » Wed Feb 01, 2012 9:27 am

Here are a couple of articles By Piya Tan which maybe of help.

090916Addressateacher.pdf
How To Address A Teacher
(46.79 KiB) Downloaded 19 times

090211Bowing.piyapdf.pdf
Bowing
(56.48 KiB) Downloaded 22 times
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
User avatar
Cittasanto
 
Posts: 5737
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:31 pm
Location: Ellan Vannin

Re: Bowing to lay teachers

Postby Dan74 » Wed Feb 01, 2012 9:41 am

Bowing and prostrating comes hard to most people here I think.

I guess Aussies tend to be more irreverent and irreligious than the Yanks. I recall the time when my future friend Nadi did a full prostration to Ajahn Thanasanti (a forest nun) after we had dropped her off at the place she was staying. That was quite confronting and I was not sure what to do. I was certainly very impressed both by the Ajahn's talk and in general but prostrating??

Now I think that bowing and prostrating can be very good. Bow to the Dhamma, bow to the Buddha that is immanent in us all, bow, simply bow.
_/|\_
User avatar
Dan74
 
Posts: 2626
Joined: Sun Mar 01, 2009 11:12 pm

Re: Bowing to lay teachers

Postby Ricardo da Silva » Wed Feb 01, 2012 10:12 am

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:Whether bowing to a monk, a lay Dhamma teacher, or a stūpa, why do you bow three times? It is because you are bowing to the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha (those Noble Ones who have realised nibbāna).

If you understand that your bowing is something done by you to show how much you respect the Triple Gem, and not how much you respect whoever is sitting in front of you, it becomes easy to bow, even to a monk or lay person who is weak in virtue, and far from the Noble Path.

It doesn't matter if the pile of bricks looking like a stūpa actually contains relics or not. Why should you allow that to affect your reverence for the Triple Gem? Nor does it matter if the person, photo, or statue you're bowing too is a Noble One or not. If your mind is purified by focusing on the qualities of the Triple Gem, that is what is important.


Sadhu, sadhu, sadhu! Very well explanation.
My suggestion: To bow down to lay teachers, lay teachers should be older than disciples.
If a man does evil, he should not do it again and again; he should not take delight in it; the accumulation of evil leads to suffering. (Dhammapada 117)

If a man does what is good, he should do it again and again; he should take delight in it; the accumulation of good leads to happiness. (Dhammapada 118)
User avatar
Ricardo da Silva
 
Posts: 6
Joined: Thu Sep 15, 2011 2:58 pm
Location: Yangon, Myanmar

Re: Bowing to lay teachers

Postby Bankei » Thu Feb 02, 2012 9:17 am

What about monks bowing to laypeople. Does it happen?

bankei
-----------------------
Bankei
Bankei
 
Posts: 426
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2009 4:40 am

Re: Bowing to lay teachers

Postby pilgrim » Thu Feb 02, 2012 9:59 am

Bankei wrote:What about monks bowing to laypeople. Does it happen?

bankei

No...
User avatar
pilgrim
 
Posts: 943
Joined: Mon Oct 19, 2009 2:56 pm

Re: Bowing to lay teachers

Postby Cittasanto » Thu Feb 02, 2012 10:48 am

monks can not bow to lay people or junior monks.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
User avatar
Cittasanto
 
Posts: 5737
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:31 pm
Location: Ellan Vannin

Re: Bowing to lay teachers

Postby plwk » Thu Feb 02, 2012 11:26 am

...lay teachers should be older than disciples.
'Younger', 'Older'... this & this
Bhikkhus, if you develop and make much this one thing,
it invariably leads to weariness, cessation, appeasement, realization and extinction.
What is it? It is recollecting the Enlightened One.
If this single thing is recollected and made much,
it invariably leads to weariness, cessation, appeasement, realization and extinction.

Anguttara-Nikaya: Ekanipata: Ekadhammapali: Pañhamavagga
VSM VMM WBB TBHT WTBT My Page
plwk
 
Posts: 1134
Joined: Mon Mar 01, 2010 5:14 am

Re: Bowing to lay teachers

Postby Cittasanto » Thu Feb 02, 2012 1:56 pm

Ricardo da Silva wrote:
Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:Whether bowing to a monk, a lay Dhamma teacher, or a stūpa, why do you bow three times? It is because you are bowing to the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha (those Noble Ones who have realised nibbāna).

If you understand that your bowing is something done by you to show how much you respect the Triple Gem, and not how much you respect whoever is sitting in front of you, it becomes easy to bow, even to a monk or lay person who is weak in virtue, and far from the Noble Path.

It doesn't matter if the pile of bricks looking like a stūpa actually contains relics or not. Why should you allow that to affect your reverence for the Triple Gem? Nor does it matter if the person, photo, or statue you're bowing too is a Noble One or not. If your mind is purified by focusing on the qualities of the Triple Gem, that is what is important.


Sadhu, sadhu, sadhu! Very well explanation.
My suggestion: To bow down to lay teachers, lay teachers should be older than disciples.

Why??
Age is not a prerequisite for respect, Gray hair does not make someone mature in the Dhamma.
Plwks links are very apt.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
User avatar
Cittasanto
 
Posts: 5737
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:31 pm
Location: Ellan Vannin

Re: Bowing to lay teachers

Postby David N. Snyder » Thu Feb 02, 2012 4:59 pm

pilgrim wrote:
Bankei wrote:What about monks bowing to laypeople. Does it happen?

bankei

No...


Cittasanto wrote:monks can not bow to lay people or junior monks.


Good points. In light of this and with due respect to Bhikkhu Pesala's point about bowing to the Triple Gem, there does however appear to be some credence to who you are bowing to.

The Vinaya recounts the story of six monks who lifted up their robes to show their thighs to the nuns. When the Buddha learned about this, he told the nuns not to pay respect to these monks. It appears therefore, that bowing is to be to a monk, nun, or person who is superior to you / worthy of respect.
User avatar
David N. Snyder
Site Admin
 
Posts: 8008
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 4:15 am
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada

Re: Bowing to lay teachers

Postby Cittasanto » Thu Feb 02, 2012 5:31 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:
pilgrim wrote:
Bankei wrote:What about monks bowing to laypeople. Does it happen?

bankei

No...


Cittasanto wrote:monks can not bow to lay people or junior monks.


Good points. In light of this and with due respect to Bhikkhu Pesala's point about bowing to the Triple Gem, there does however appear to be some credence to who you are bowing to.

The Vinaya recounts the story of six monks who lifted up their robes to show their thighs to the nuns. When the Buddha learned about this, he told the nuns not to pay respect to these monks. It appears therefore, that bowing is to be to a monk, nun, or person who is superior to you / worthy of respect.

The Sadhamma is the priority, that which is truly worthy of respect, not the person.
You remind me of a vision mentioned by Ajahn Gavasiko in another thread where Ajahn Mun saw a large group of Arahants and the Buddha all come and sit in order of arival, not order of seniority/age within the Sangha.
unfortunately I can not remember the thread name.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
User avatar
Cittasanto
 
Posts: 5737
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:31 pm
Location: Ellan Vannin

Re: Bowing to lay teachers

Postby David N. Snyder » Thu Feb 02, 2012 5:45 pm

Priority yes, but not everything. Otherwise senior monks would be bowing to junior monks, which they don't.
User avatar
David N. Snyder
Site Admin
 
Posts: 8008
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 4:15 am
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada

Re: Bowing to lay teachers

Postby Goofaholix » Thu Feb 02, 2012 8:47 pm

Why bow to anything or anybody? Just bow.

For me it's primarily an exercise in mindfulness and humbling and it doesn't really matter whether there is a Buddha image, an alter, or a teacher in front of me when i do it. Of course when I'm in tradional environments I do it at the tradional times and in the traditional manner but it's still primarily an exercise in mindfulness and humbling.

Sometimes gratitude towards the triple gem or a teacher arises in the mind sometimes not.

For example I've heard of monks undertaking the practice of bowing whenever they enter or leave their kuti. Also a Mahasi based tradition in northern Thailand practices a very slow one step at a time bowing practise at the begining and the end of sitting, this can take 5 minutes or so, it's very effective in collecting your mind and enhancing mindfulness.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
User avatar
Goofaholix
 
Posts: 1913
Joined: Sun Nov 15, 2009 3:49 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: Bowing to lay teachers

Postby Cittasanto » Thu Feb 02, 2012 8:53 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:Priority yes, but not everything. Otherwise senior monks would be bowing to junior monks, which they don't.


What the True Teachings is not everything here? the Dhammavinaya is not complete or true without both. :tongue:
but yes I did have that in mind when writing, but could be misleading :anjali:
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
User avatar
Cittasanto
 
Posts: 5737
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:31 pm
Location: Ellan Vannin

Re: Bowing to lay teachers

Postby sattva » Thu Feb 02, 2012 11:15 pm

Cittasanto wrote:Some people don't like it!
some may appreciate it!

Bowing is a beautiful gesture, one of humility, humbling oneself to the dhamma (not the person) is always a positive move, even if one doesn't want to.
I have found forcing myself to bow toward someone I really didn't want to at the time quite lightening, almost a putting down the grudge/burden so to speak.

but some may find it inappropriate, others may not.

:goodpost:
Roshi Philip Kapleau (August 20, 1912-May 6,2004
With palms together....
User avatar
sattva
 
Posts: 544
Joined: Thu May 07, 2009 10:07 pm
Location: the western part of Maryland

Re: Bowing to lay teachers

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Fri Feb 03, 2012 2:54 pm

Dan74 wrote:Bowing and prostrating comes hard to most people here I think.


It feels very awkward to me. So I would more likely say "thank-you", having recieved a teaching.

Spiny
User avatar
Spiny O'Norman
 
Posts: 851
Joined: Sat May 23, 2009 8:46 am
Location: Suffolk, England

Re: Bowing to lay teachers

Postby jabalí » Fri Feb 03, 2012 5:50 pm

Goofaholix wrote: Also a Mahasi based tradition in northern Thailand practices a very slow one step at a time bowing practise at the begining and the end of sitting, this can take 5 minutes or so, it's very effective in collecting your mind and enhancing mindfulness.


Like this:

jabalí
 
Posts: 5
Joined: Sun Oct 09, 2011 5:52 pm

Re: Bowing to lay teachers

Postby Ricardo da Silva » Mon Feb 06, 2012 7:34 am

Bankei wrote:What about monks bowing to laypeople. Does it happen?

bankei

Monks cannot bow to laypeople even if laypeople are his parents.
Laypeople should bow down to monks even if a monk is their son.

Monks cannot bow to laypeople even if a layperson is an Anagami and monk is a puthujana.
Laypeople should bow down to monks even if a layperson is an Anagami and monk is a puthujana.
If a man does evil, he should not do it again and again; he should not take delight in it; the accumulation of evil leads to suffering. (Dhammapada 117)

If a man does what is good, he should do it again and again; he should take delight in it; the accumulation of good leads to happiness. (Dhammapada 118)
User avatar
Ricardo da Silva
 
Posts: 6
Joined: Thu Sep 15, 2011 2:58 pm
Location: Yangon, Myanmar

Previous

Return to General Theravāda discussion

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bhikkhu_Samahita, Tomi and 5 guests